Sunday, September 30, 2007

Of Acorns and Oaks

I have become increasingly amazed at the power of parenting. Perhaps it is because as a a pastor I see this displayed over and again. Or maybe it is because I see my own children duplicate the traits and characteristics that their own parent displayed before them. (ouch)Whatever the reason, I am deeply convinced that we hold unimaginable sway upon the lives of our children. We create a future for them whether we understand that we are doing it or not.

That fact alone is enough to scare the pants off of most of us. We want things to be genetically engineered. Recent illicit attempts in the media to blame basic character issues on genetics have come up dry and been found wanting. There have been attempts to find a "faith" gene, a "gay" gene, and a "fat" gene. People are fat because they eat too much and exercise too little. People are homosexual because they choose that lifestyle (often due to childhood trauma) and they have faith because they choose to exercise it spiritually. As much as we would like to be a nation of victims we aren't predetermined in that way.

We react to the lives our parents lived before us- either positively or negatively. The littlest things in this fragile society send people spinning out of control. previous generations were a little thick skinned compared to our current fragility. These were pioneers. But alas, this generation is reacting to what it sees in its leaders and parents.

So What? Well it becomes increasingly clear that we need to live our lives in such a way that the Lord is glorified and the watching generations are not caused to stumble. Jesus was pretty hard on those who cause little ones to stumble. (Mt 18.6) For some reason we don't preach that verse to parents- but we should. Then maybe the parents would stop exaggerating, or living double lives in front of their children, or trying to manipulate these little lives instead of educate and motivate them. It might end childhood sexual traumas and abuse. It might create strong believers in all age groups because one thing is for sure- the acorn doesn't fall far from the oak tree.


Pastor Ryan said...

I have to say, I am proud yet scared in the fact that now I am a parent. I have to say, that having the responsibility of shaping a life is perhaps the most trust worthy thing that God has entrusted to us. I have the responsibility to show my daughter what a real man is according to God's idea not society's idea. I also have the responsiblity to share the greatest gift that has ever been given to me and that is, a relationship with Jesus Christ, our risen and victorious King! Great post Pastor Dave!

Andrea said...

Each day I am learning how to be a better parent. The kind of love we feel for our children is the only thing I can equate to the love God has for us...even though I know that His love is even greater (hard for our small minds to fathom).

I am also an abuse survivor and I choose not to be a victim of these experiences. Sometimes it is a task to not allow past circumstances to define me as a Christian wife, mother and daughter.

Being a parent is powerful, wonderful and frightening. It is accompanied with the dichotomy that it is easy to glorfiy the Lord yet difficult during trying moments when faith falters.

Instead of criticizing my parents, I find it somewhat comforting that I have a chance to be better, do better and understand the difference in their efforts. My purpose in raising my child is different.

I appreciate the reminder. We need all the help we can get!

Linda said...

You know my husband and I were just discussing this last night... after being frustrated with our 11 year old with the fact that she tends to be "forgetful" or even "lazy" at times.. it frustrates us because it is our laziness that is reflected. Our lack of desire to sit down and do her homework with her.. she isn't failing us.. we are failing her. I cried thinking.. WHY!! why do i get frustrated with her, she is a child, and she is only doing what we allow her to do and get away with.

Lord HELP me... to be the Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Coworker...etc .. that you have called me to be .. is my prayer!!!

Knowing the Apple doesn't fall far from the tree brings both a smile to my face and a tear to my eye.. because deep down I know that I am responsible for these beautiful children that the Lord has blessed us with and as I cry out to the Lord for his help, I know that is is my own actions that my children are seeing and demonstrating as well.

Jorge and I tend to think, we are just like our parents, but I don't even want to claim that.. we are a NEW creation in Christ, although our parents tried their hardest to raise us right, we are all flawed. I simply do not desire to make the same mistakes my parents did, and with the Lord's help .. I can only HOPE and PRAY that he will continue to do a work in me that i may pour it out on my children!

Paul M. Harrison said...

I have never wanted children and still don't, precisely because I am one of those fragile people without the character to shape another life. I have the same temperament that my mom does, which is to become overwhelmed, oversensitive, and complaining. But this brings us to genes and behavior.

I just bought a book called, "The Biology of Belief" which used to be called, "Why We Believe What We Believe" and it is fascinating. I have no doubt, and I think evidence shows, that there is a genetic factor in our desires and temperaments, such as suicide and chronic depression running through family lines or separated twins who end up liking all of the same stuff, having the same behavioral traits, and marrying the same types of people. I think in many cases sexual identity can be influenced by hormonal issues and other drives beyond the conscious will.

I think there is valid evidence coming from biology-based behavior and morality. I think as a Christian, in order to retain free-will and responsibility as well as the transforming power of God, you don't want to base it biology. A part of me thinks this is good, another part of thinks it lacks understanding and compassion.

You have always been resiliant and not one to lay down. Perhaps competitive. I think your temperament and experience of life predisposes you to adopting certain beliefs just as my melancholy and frail temperament predisposes me to accept other arguments.

In my severest depression some showed compassion and understanding, others got angry and said to stop whining and just snap out of it. It was the frail ones showing compassion and the driven ones showing tougher compassion. Is this genetic? Can I ever be what I am not?

Existentialism at its best.